Monday, July 30, 2018

Kyoto and a quick bite in Osaka

Sunday, our second full day in Japan. 

Sorry about the total lack of posts.  As a tour guide, I find that my job is very taxing, especially given the demands of my clients. I also need some sustenance myself.  And a tiny bit of sleep.  Ice coffee definitely helps me. Plus the coffee is delicious, especially at 7-11 and Family Mart.

The job also doesn't pay well, which means there is little incentive.

Again, if you want to see full resolution pictures, just click on a picture. I have fairly hi-res pics posted, but didn't want these pages to load slowly.

I think it will be well after we are home before I get this trip journal completed. I have copious notes written here and there so I should be able to get my details (fairly) straight.

Anyway, we started this day at breakfast here at the Royal Daiwa. We got various deals here and there for lodging, and this particular leg included breakfast for three (remember that Em is at “school” and we actually thought she wouldn’t be with us this weekend).  Em joined us and I opted out of breakfast, so that they could eat with Em.  They said that their buffet was fantastic, rivaling the breakfast at Breeze Bay in Miyako). The normal cost is ¥3000, so it better be good.  Anyway, more narrative on this particular breakfast at the Royal Grande later this trip.

We head towards Shijo, their “downtown.  Where Nishiki Market is located.  One of our favorite places in Japan.  Hot already, early in the morning, so we get ice cream. We’ve had this many times:

Warabi mochi. 

I can actually take a picture of Sam, without hoards of people, because it’s still early.

Black Sesame dango.

Black Sesame ice cream.

OK, contest:  Here are two pictures of us on granite seats opposite each other in a Shotengai in Kyoto. Email me the caption.  I choose the winner. This is in Teramachi, adjacent to Nishiki in Downtown Kyoto.

Here is the Kyoto Downtown Katsukura.  Great place! I dined alone, since the kids and Connie went to a vegan place called Tamisa in Teramachi.  Katsukura is well documented; it's a chain.  It is very crowded, but I get in right away, since I'm a singleton, and get a prime seat at the busy counter.  Most people are in groups.  The chef is right in front of me. He carefully weighed every piece before cooking.  I saw him "discard" one; not sure if it was underweight or not up to snuff.

I got the small 120 g special Materra Rosu.  I suspect that Materra has something to do with Teramachi, since I don't see that on the menu at other Katsukura's. Remember to always order Rosu, not Hire, since the Rosu is the fattier, juicier cut.  Hire is dry, but, I guess, lower in fat.

It was served with Wasabi-Katsu sauce as well as the grind-your-own Goma sauce.  I preferred the traditional non-wasabi.

Here are some unedited pics from the others' meal.  Not certain what those are.

That evening, Em had to return to school (it was Sunday).  Sam, Connie and I decided to go to Daichi Asahi, the ramen place, close to Kyoto Station, that had a huge line the year before.  This place is open 21 hours each day!  Perpetual line (though I never passed by at 1 AM to check).  The line was manageable at about 15 minutes, and we were efficiently seated.  High Tabelog scores mean something...

The ramen was good, but not great, by our standards.  Decent flavor, lots of pork in my bowl, which was tender and not "dry."  Sam and Connie got the "vegetarian" option (though it is made with pork broth).

Sorry. It's a miss.  Won't go back again.

Monday AM, Umi no Hi (a National holiday devoted to the Sea).  I get the Royal Daiwa breakfast that they have been raving about. 

Buffet style.  Japanese call it "baikingu."  I won't get into the etymology of that, but trust me, it has to do with Smorgasbords, which doesn't translate to Japanese very well.

All the typical Nihonshoku and Youshoku foods you expect for breakfast.

We planned to meet up with Em, after her AM class, at a Vegan place near Nijo-jo, called Morpho Cafe.  So, with just a couple of hours, we didn't know what exactly to do.  Inari was close (only two stops away from Kyoto Station by JR -- plus our JR passes became active this day!) and I had read that they have great street food there. We were there before, several years ago.

Hotter than usual, which is pretty bad. And though it was only the AM, it was crowded.  Amazing that there are so so so many Chinese tourists everywhere!

We didn't even go to the main shrine area (just look at numerous Fushimi Inari pictures online). We just people watched, and looked for food.

It was an ok experience, though it was so hot!  There was competition among tourists for the few places in the shade along the short walk from the station to the shrine.

Met up with Em, and took a short bus ride to Morpho.  But they were full!  Em was disappointed, since she enjoyed her meal there a week or two before, and wanted us to enjoy.  So, plan B, is Gomacro Salon, another bus ride away.

Umi no Hi means a special menu.  Only a curry stew set menu.  With or without corn.  Below is the corn set.  It was pretty tasty (for vegan).

So, we have our JR passes, which mean JR train rides are "free."  Em went back to school, and Sam didn't want to go, but Connie insists that the two of us go to a Yakitori place in Osaka called Gappo, which she spied on a Youtube video.  So, we literally hopped on the Shinkansen for a 15 minute ride to Shin-Osaka, and then a short subway ride to Namba station.  The Shinkansen unreserved cars were practically empty in the late afternoon.

Gappo is located in Dotonbori, a very touristy area of Osaka, lined by a canal, seen above.  It was, again, uncrowded; maybe the holiday?

So, we end up in Gappo and get a bunch of dishes!  ¥4800 for 16 skewers and other treats, including salad, Yaki-Onigiri Ochazuke, and Shiitake. Not bad for a completely full belly!

Negima (thigh and green onion)

Furisode (meat closest to the skin) and an order of Cartilage.

Tebasaki (eaten with hand).


Yakionigiri chazuke


Seseri Negi (neck meat with green onion)

Another Furisode with an order of Chicken skin.

Mmm. A fine meal.  Tomorrow, to Okayama.

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